Patterico's Pontifications

7/11/2008

Selections from This Week’s Dust-Up

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:01 pm

I’ve put most of my writing energy over the past week into my debate on latimes.com with Marc Cooper, concerning the future of the L.A. Times. In case you haven’t followed it, I wanted to provide a roundup of links, together with some highlights from my entries, to whet your appetite:

Part One:

[T]he paper ran a front-page story last month alleging that Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, had a website with pornographic images, including a “half-dressed man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal.” The obvious suggestion was the video depicted bestiality in a prurient manner.

Nonsense. In fact, the video is humor. It portrays a man who is probably trying to relieve himself while trying to fight off an aroused donkey with one hand as he holds up his pants with the other. It has been shown on television and is available on YouTube. Most of the material on the judge’s website, as it turned out, was similarly intended as humorous and not lewd. Many readers I know who viewed the actual material felt deceived by The Times’ article. They felt that the newspaper tried to make the story seem splashier than it really was.

You can’t blame that on Tribune.

Part Two:

The [L.A.] Weekly exposed the laughable naivete of a 2005 Times article lionizing an alleged “former gang member” supposedly turned “man of peace.” The Weekly’s secret trick? Talking to law enforcement!

The Weekly printed an excellent piece about gang warfare in housing projects. Meanwhile, The Times couldn’t be bothered to run one line on the shooting death of a teenager in Compton. Yet somehow, the paper found room for a dozen stories about Paris Hilton’s jail sentence.

Part Three:

Worse than the complacency is the paper’s arrogance — its overweening, unbearable arrogance.

L.A. Times editors view themselves as self-appointed shapers of public opinion. They dislocate their shoulders patting themselves on the back for their alleged “intellectual rigor and emotional self-discipline,” to use Tim Rutten’s memorably modest phrasing in 2003.

The hallmark of arrogance is casual, aloof dismissal of one’s critics. Some snigger behind their hand as they dismiss bloggers as a “crew of dilettante verbal snipers” whose views can be safely ignored while the ever-so-serious newspaper people discuss the issues of the day.

Part Four:

[T]he paper’s dismissive attitude toward bloggers is so supercilious, it’s comical.

Times business columnist David Lazarus once contrasted the virtues of “the much-respected, widely esteemed news outlet you’re currently enjoying” — no arrogance there! — with blogs, which, according to Lazarus, “continue sprouting like crab grass throughout the electronic ether.” The late David Shaw called blogs a “solipsistic, self-aggrandizing journalist-wannabe genre.” Every time I catch the paper in yet another embarrassing error, my readers fondly recall Shaw’s pompous pronouncement that his columns were superior because they were reviewed by “four experienced Times editors.”

Does The Times still have four editors reviewing every piece it publishes? I doubt it. How could it, with round after round of layoffs?

Part Five:

Yes, The Times is dying a slow death right in front of our eyes for the reasons we have discussed ad nauseam: the impact of the Internet coupled with the paper’s arrogance and aloofness. It won’t be missed.

This is a paper where even the Pulitzer Prize winners are often an embarrassment. When they’re not publishing stories based on forged documents or embroiled in ethically questionable conflicts of interest, they’re snooping into their colleagues’ e-mail or leaving silly sock-puppet comments on my blog.

You can read it all here.

My sparring partner in this debate, Marc Cooper, says of me:

I enjoyed mixing it up with Patrick “Patterico” Frey. He’s a nice and thoughtful guy, if politically errant.

Funny; that’s just what I was going to say about him!

Seriously, though, I did enjoy the jousting with Marc. And he does seem like a good guy, even if he’s maybe a bit hostile to you, my commenters. (You did know that you’re “bitter, angry and delusional folks” . . . didn’t you?)

16 Comments

  1. If the Times’ layoffs are like government cutbacks, they kept the four editors and fired the reporters.

    Comment by Kevin Murphy (eb4d6c) — 7/11/2008 @ 6:09 pm

  2. Not only are we bitter, we cling to our guns and religion, too.

    Comment by DRJ (cfa65f) — 7/11/2008 @ 6:30 pm

  3. [B]itter, angry and delusional.

    I’ll add that to my resume just after largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command.

    But I’m smart enough to discriminate how & where I obtain information to make my own decisions. And that hasn’t been the Times for about two decades. This came after personal experience with factual errors at police crime scenes, virtually always to the detriment of involved officers and (Daryl Gates) law enforcement.

    Great work in this series, Patrick. Debates like this certainly enhance the credibility of bloggers. And while one weakness of print media is the inability to cross-link to other sources, Mr. Cooper wasn’t similarly limited in this debate. I think I counted only 3 links in his statements all week long, where you had about 35 (I didn’t write ‘em down). I got to thinking that he hasn’t developed the practice of supporting his positions with proofs–a demonstration of one of your points!

    Comment by ManlyDad (75cbfe) — 7/11/2008 @ 6:58 pm

  4. Nicely done, Profonico.

    Comment by Pablo (99243e) — 7/11/2008 @ 8:26 pm

  5. Yes, job well done. I can’t think of anyone who could write as powerfully and convincingly as you did, and with such good humor, too.

    Comment by DRJ (cfa65f) — 7/11/2008 @ 9:22 pm

  6. Dammit, I am not angry, and its just like uppity newspaper guys to say such things, especially when all of Patterico’s commenters exhibit such grace and deep understanding of every issue.

    (Did I get ‘em all..??)

    Comment by Chris (c9c2a3) — 7/12/2008 @ 6:32 am

  7. You know, if a newspaper were really interested in finding out whether or not it was getting the facts right, it would go back to the principals in a couple of big stories a week and ask them how the paper’s version of the events they were involved in compared with their own experience. In every event I’ve personally been involved in that was covered by the press, they got it significantly wrong, and everyone I’ve talked to says the same.

    Nah, it’ll never happen. It requires acknowledgment that they’re fallible.

    Comment by Socratease (11b622) — 7/12/2008 @ 9:16 am

  8. Well done, Patterico.

    Thanks.

    Comment by SteveMGalbraith (6c7efb) — 7/12/2008 @ 10:04 am

  9. So, after a week of documenting that the paper is arrogant and aloof, part of Cooper’s defense insults readers as bitter, angry and delusional.

    It explains why he’s a frequent contributor to the paper, not to mention why the paper will eventually go bust.

    Comment by Karl (3bd709) — 7/12/2008 @ 10:48 am

  10. In Cooper’s defense, he did say “many of the commenters.” We should at least recognize his mastery of weasel words.

    Comment by Jim Treacher (592cb4) — 7/12/2008 @ 11:04 am

  11. Is there actually one person in southern Cal. who still reads?

    Comment by Skip (bdbbb6) — 7/12/2008 @ 11:50 am

  12. Is there actually one person in southern Cal. who still reads?

    The man who does not read has no advantage over the man that can not read. — Mark Twain

    Comment by Drumwaster (5ccf59) — 7/12/2008 @ 11:53 am

  13. In my neighborhood there is a supermarket that has a salesperson [aggressively] hawking LAT subscriptions. I smiled as I passed his table and ignored the spiel extolling the benefits of the coupons that could be gleaned from each edition. I was reminded of how irrelevant the once mighty Times has become. Five years ago, I was down to buying a couple of copies a week from the 7-11 mart for the joy of doing the crosswords. In reality, I was getting an emotional (negative) fix from seething at the proliferation of front page news analysis editorials from progressive mountebanks that have gathered together in an ideological ‘circle jerk’. Take it from my experience,(and obviously tens of thousands of former readers and subscribers), you’ll never miss the coupons, sports sections, etc., and you can let Patterico carry the sword and vicariously help to slay this wounded dragon. Thanks to the man for his articulate and relentless pursuit of reasoned public discourse.

    Comment by MSO (e8949a) — 7/12/2008 @ 12:18 pm

  14. I read a lot. I am careful to read sources that don’t make me more ignorant than when I started. That is what happens when you read incorrect facts, and the reasoning that derives from them, or correct facts, with incorrect reasoning.

    I skip the LA Times.

    Comment by Don Meaker (7f28f0) — 7/12/2008 @ 2:30 pm

  15. I got an email the other day from the LA Times. I registered on their site to check out some news articles and they got my email

    This was the ad I got from the LA Times asking me to purchase their newspaper

    LA TIMES read it for the groceries

    Comment by William Amos (bc0ccd) — 7/12/2008 @ 3:44 pm

  16. I stopped reading the LAT about 15 years ago for the same reasons everyone else has mentioned: hubris, sloppiness, bias, contempt for their readership, as well as an obvious disinterest in doing a quality job. The last straw for me was the willful refusal by them to cover any of Bill Clinton’s fibs, flubs, and financial chicanery, especially after devoting around 10 years to Iran-Contra, Bush tax hikes,and trashing the LAPD.

    Did I mention their crappy sports page? Two NFL franchises leave their area of operations, and they let the herald Examiner and the OC Register take the lead in coverage. Unbelievable.

    I’m glad that they’re going down the tube and I won’t be missing them, even as fishwrap. I use the OC Weekly for that.

    Comment by trentk269 (523753) — 7/13/2008 @ 11:54 am

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